The formal agreement between you and your architect is an opportunity to ensure that you both envision the same project, requirements, and expectations. Before committing these to paper, use the steps presented below to identify any items that may have been missed.

Establish project requirements with these crucial questions:

  • What is to be designed and built?
  • Where will (or might) it be built?
  • What is the level of quality?
  • What is the role of the project in your life, your community, and/or your business?
  • What are the scheduling requirements or restraints?
  • What is the target date for completion?
  • What are the budget and sources of financing?
  • Who are the anticipated key team members?

Describe project tasks and assign responsibility for each one

You and your architect should clarify the administrative, design, and construction tasks essential to successfully completing the project, as well as the services required and who will be responsible for each of them.

Identify your schedule requirements

Place all tasks on a time line, estimating duration for each, and identify those that, if delayed, will postpone completion of your project. Compare the time line with your target completion date and adjust one or both as appropriate.

Take a critical look at the results

Good project schedules allow enough time for decision making. Is your schedule reasonable, particularly given the project’s requirements and budget? Have you allowed enough time to review the architect’s submissions, receive any necessary approvals, and make your decisions?

The owner-architect agreement

If you have done your homework, the written contract should follow without difficulty. One thing to remember: As with medical or legal services, architecture is not a product that can be perfectly quantified, and just like your doctor or lawyer, your architect typically does not warrant or guarantee results. As a provider of professional services, an architect is required to perform to a professional standard. Courts recognize this, and so too must responsible clients.

For assistance finding an architect, visit Houzz and search through their database of AIA members.

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